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Radio Science

The 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor ionospheric impact studied using GPS measurements

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Abstract

On 15 February 2013, the Chelyabinsk meteor event (the largest in size since 1908) provided a unique opportunity to observe ionospheric perturbations associated with the ablation and ionospheric impact of the meteor using GPS measurements. The hypersonic bolide generated powerful shock waves while acoustic perturbations in the atmosphere led to the upward propagation of acoustic and gravity waves into the ionosphere. In our research, we applied two different techniques to detect ionospheric disturbances in dual-frequency global positioning system (GPS) measurements during the meteor impact event. The data were collected from near-field GPS networks in Russia, GPS Earth Observation Network (GEONET) in Japan, and Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) stations in the coterminous U.S. Using a novel wavelet coherence detection technique, we were able to identify three different wave trains in the measurements collected from the nearest GPS station to the meteor impact site, with frequencies of approximately 4.0–7.8 mHz, 1.0 −2.5 mHz, and 2.7–11 mHz at 03:30 UTC. We estimated the speed and direction of arrival of the total electron content (TEC) disturbances by cross-correlating TEC time series for every pair of stations in several areas of the GEONET and PBO networks. The results may be characterized as three different types of traveling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs). First, the higher-frequency (4.0–7.8 mHz) disturbances were observed around the station ARTU in Arti, Russia (56.43°N, 58.56°E), with an estimated mean propagation speed of about 862 ± 65 m/s (with 95% confidence interval). Another type of TID disturbance related to the wave trains was identified in the lower frequency band (1.0–2.5 mHz), propagating with a mean speed of 362 ± 23 m/s. The lower frequency ionospheric perturbations were observed at distances of 300–1500 km away from Chelyabinsk. The third type of TID wave train was identified using the PBO stations in the relative short-period range of 1.5–6 min (2.7–11 mHz) with a mean propagation speed of 733 ± 36 m/s. The observed short-period ionospheric perturbations in the U.S. region is, to the best of our knowledge, the first observational evidence of the coincident the long-range meteor-generated infrasound signals propagating in the ionosphere.

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